Wee Asked Danielle McCracken

WEEasked some simple questions — and your neighbors, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, maybe some strangers, answered. Get to know them a little bit better with our fun series, “WEEasked.” Look for it a couple of times a month, most likely on Mondays. Do you have someone you’d like to see featured? Send us an email to weelunk@weelunk.com, and please be sure to put WEEasked in the subject line.

“Who doesn’t like Danielle?” — someone once asked me. It was a rhetorical question. She’s like Sarah Lee — Nobody doesn’t like Danielle McCracken!

With friends at an annual Christmas cookie exchange party, front, from left, are: Caroline Ihlenfeld Dillon, McCracken, Cynthia Morrison; back, Clare Levenson, Kathleen McDermott, Kirsten Ruben Lundberg, Sarah Barickman, Leigh Ann Och and Erikka Storch.

Danielle is president of Oglebay Institute — the non-profit arts, nature and cultural organization with a mission of fostering appreciation, expression and discovery by engaging people of all ages and abilities through exceptional programming in performing and visual arts, dance, history and nature. Oglebay Institute is recognized as the oldest arts council in the nation.

Nobody doesn’t like Oglebay Institute, either, so the two are a good fit.

McCracken, right, and Amy Dobkin of Southwestern Energy (camp sponsor) visiting an Oglebay Institute Summer Camp program at the Stifel Fine Arts Center.

Prior to her position at Oglebay Institute, which she began in 2015, McCracken was director of advancement at Wheeling Country Day School and served as a development consultant for the Wheeling Symphony Society. She also worked in the advancement office at West Liberty University, serving first as director of major and planned gifts and later as director of development and regional development officer. Early in her career, McCracken was director of community relations at Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center.

McCracken has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in public administration from West Virginia University.

McCracken with W.Va. Sen. Ryan Weld (R-Brooke) at Arts Advocacy Day at the W.Va. State Capitol in 2017.

She is active in the community and has served on the board of many non-profit organizations including Elmhurst the House of Friendship, Seeing Hand Association, Children’s Museum of the Ohio Valley and the American Red Cross Ohio Valley Chapter. She is the past-president of the Wheeling Rotary Club, is a member of the Women’s Giving Circle, the Wheeling Symphony Auxiliary and a sustaining member of the Junior League of Wheeling. She also serves on the Wheeling Arts Commission, the Board of W.Va. Arts Advocacy and on the Wheeling National Heritage Area’s Sidewalks Committee that is developing strategies to integrate the arts into the revitalization efforts of downtown Wheeling.

McCracken is married to Thomas McCracken and has two sons, Adam, 15, and Collin, 12.

Subscribe to Weelunk
McCracken with her boys, Adam and Collin.

Here are Danielle’s responses to our questions:

What’s your favorite Wheeling neighborhood and why?

Woodsdale. There are many things I love about the Woodsdale area. The history, the tree-lined streets, the large porches, its walkability, the convenience and wonderful neighbors. Some of my fondest memories growing up were spending time on my porch with my family in a similar neighborhood, which probably explains that connection. I love historic homes and buildings and reimagining their possibilities. I purchased our Woodsdale home nearly 20 years ago, which, at the time, had been adapted into a duplex. We converted it back to a single-family home a couple years later and completed many projects over the years — it has been a labor of love and fun transformation.

Brunch or dinner? Which is your favorite meal out? And, why?

Dinner. My favorite meal out would be Italian or Asian. But more important than the “when” or “what,” is the “who.” Everything tastes better when sharing the experience with family and friends.

What book is on your nightstand or e-reader right now?

“Good to Great” by Jim Collins and “Anam Cara — A Book of Celtic Wisdom” by John O’Donohue are the two books on my nightstand at the moment.

Where do you take out-of-town visitors?

Oglebay Institute events/facilities (Stifel Fine Arts Center, Museums of OI, the Schrader Center, Towngate Theatre, School of Dance), Oglebay Park, Centre Market and some of Wheeling’s wonderful and unique restaurants!

What upcoming events are you most looking forward to attending?

With the broad range of wonderful events in Wheeling, answering this question in a succinct way is difficult! Some of my favorite summer events include the Wheeling Arts & Cultural Festival, the Blues Festival, the Italian Festival, and many of the events and performances presented by Oglebay Institute. My oldest son is a member of the Crazy 8 Improv Group at the Towngate Theatre, so I am really looking forward to seeing their next performance. One of my favorite events is Oglebay Institute’s Annual Board Benefit, which is held at the end of August and is hosted by Oglebay Institute’s Board of Directors. The party fills the historic Oglebay Mansion and extends into the lawn. It is truly inspiring to see such a large crowd turn out each year in support of our mission and our arts, cultural and nature programs that serve more than 80,000 people each year.

What is your wish for Wheeling?

My wish for Wheeling is that it will continue to invest in its many assets that make it a wonderful place to live, visit, and do business – arts, culture, nature, education, entertainment and recreation. Through continued community support and collaboration, institutions can thrive and continue to serve as an economic driver that will help our city grow and develop new opportunities for our citizens and businesses.

Family vacation in the Outer Banks, North Carolina, from left: Danielle’s children Adam McCracken and Collin McCracken; her husband, Thom McCracken; Danielle; her dad David B. Cross; her mom, Terry Cross; her brother David F. Cross and  sister-in-law Cheryl Cross; and nieces, Bria Cross, Erica Cross, Ashton Cross and Alexa Pellarin.